Oh joy; we can meet again! The isolation is over. We no longer have to WFH (unless we want to!) and we no longer have to be a slave to zoom!
It’s been a tough time; watching the news every evening and hearing of so many deaths and hospital admissions, and we must never underestimate the impact this has had on families who have lost loved ones. Everyone, of all ages, and every business has had to adapt; there is no doubt our return to ‘normal’ will encompass new technologies and a squirt of hand gel at every opportunity.
It was with great pleasure, that at the beginning of August, FOLK2FOLK resumed the weekly Champion Calf award at Holsworth Market, and how enjoyable, once again, to be able to meet farmers, professionals, clients, and friends. Under the guidance of the Livestock Auctioneer’s Association, our livestock markets have also adapted to operate ‘drop and go’ systems which have kept this vital part of livestock farming functioning.
The doom-mongers were incorrect, assuming that prices of beef and sheep would drop; how wrong could they be. The prices of both have reached record highs, ‘the store cattle prices are up £50 a head on last week’, ‘unbelievable trade for cull ewes’, ‘highest prices ever for an opening store lamb sale’ and it goes on. Our Champion calf this week was a South Devon bull calf from Richard Hagar of Chulmleigh selling for a staggering £425, giving all the continental bred calves a run for their money!
With cull ewe prices so buoyant we wait with bated breath to see at what levels breeding sheep will trade. A few early sales have taken place-tups are already at work in early lambing flocks. The large northern sales are about to get underway; next week Craven Cattle Marts have 10,000 Gimmer Shearlings on offer at Skipton with the first Mule Gimmer Lamb show and sale on the 7th September. This is a major barometer sale which will see the Ryders and the Wilsons battling for the honours and give a good indicator of trade to come.
Farming, for many, is a lonely existence. Our livestock markets, apart from a business platform, also fulfill a social role. How good again to see the market café re-opened, the hum of conversation and the full English breakfast you are not allowed at home. How I wish more farmers would take an hour or two out to attend market. It may not solve their problems but they would find out others have the same problem! A problem shared is a …….
By Ian Bell OBE, Head of Farming & Rural Engagement
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